The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yesterday, said that it has formulated public awareness and education programmes to ease the problem of marine litter. This type of litter, presents a growing threat to the country’s marine and coastal environment, the EPA said.
The EPA said the public awareness campaign for the marine litter project, will utilise a combination of formats for maximum reach and impact. The general thrust of the campaign will be on general environmental management and good environmental stewardship – both at the individual and community levels.
The Agency said, marine litter poses environmental, economic, health and aesthetic problems not just in Guyana, but in the global community as well.
“This form of litter severely affects wildlife, and threatens the integrity of Guyana’s coastal and marine ecosystems. Understanding the problem and the factors that contribute to marine litter, will arm Guyanese with the tools necessary to reduce and eventually eliminate the problem,” the EPA stated.
Marine litter is often referred to as marine debris and consists of any man-made, solid material that does not decompose easily, which has been disposed of or left in the marine and coastal environment and results in a continuous build-up of litter. There are a wide variety of materials that contribute to marine pollution, including plastics (fragments, sheets, bags, containers); polystyrene (cups, packaging, buoys); rubber (gloves, boots, tyres); and, wood (construction timbers, pallets, fragments of both).
The EPA had partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme-Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) to undertake an assessment of marine litter management in Guyana, with the ultimate aim of developing a strategy for the management of marine litter in Guyana.
This strategy will pilot the implementation of the UNEP Regional Seas/CAR/RCU project for the implementation of the draft regional action plan for marine litter.
According to the EPA, deficiencies in the implementation and enforcement of existing rules and regulations at international, regional and national levels, combined with a lack of awareness among major stakeholders and citizens, are some of the primary reasons for the marine litter problem worldwide.
The Agency also placed marine litter as part of the broader problem of waste management, which is becoming a major public health and environmental issue in many countries.
Marine litter data collected in Guyana by the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), an annual activity, revealed that the vast majority of marine litter comes from Land Based Sources (LBS).
LBS refers to sources from which waste is generated such as municipal landfills (waste dumps) located on the coast, riverine transportation, discharge of untreated municipal sewage and storm water (including occasional overflows), industrial facilities (solid waste from landfills and untreated water) and tourism (recreational activities on the coast and from beach goers).
In this regard, the need to address issues relating to Solid Waste Management (SWM), especially in-land, is necessary, since LBS of litter must be controlled in order to reduce the volume of marine litter in the environment, the EPA stated.
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